Thoughts while pruning


buds on

the apple tree

 starting to swell. The

honk of geese,  the raucous





Aslan is  afoot.


Notes on this poem.  I was out early this week pruning.  I have between 90 and  100 semi dwarf apple trees  each season that require my attention.  The second morning I was out, I was struck by how quickly the dormant  buds were starting to  swell.  I would never have  noticed that sort of thing when I was younger.  I wasn’t out there 5 minutes, before I heard the sound of  geese.  There were 4 of them.  I tried to get my camera out  to record them as they passed overhead, but they were moving too fast.   This poem is an attempt to capture some of the joy and energy I encounter out in the orchard.

                                                                            DM   Orchardist /Poet


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Two years ago, my aunt Rosie gave me a cardboard  box of 35 mm slides she’d inherited from her aunt Annie from Germany. there were probably two to three hundred slides.    Most of the slides were taken before I was  born.  I am in that season of life where I am trying to  downsize,  so wasn’t  sure I even wanted that box.

We didn’t own a slide projector, and  my neck quickly got stiff holding those old slide up to the kitchen light.

I soon realized I had a small gold mine of family photos….

Here is the very first slide I looked at:


That’s me on the left. Aunt Annie and my brother Steve on the right…The year…about 1961. This would have been taken at my grandparents farm.



My grandpa unloading hay


Grandpa’s farm dogs Butch and Feedie waiting  in the truck to go to town.


And on a related note….

Last night, a book of poems on our book shelf caught my eye. I wasn’t quite ready to hit the sack, and was definitely not in the mood to watch a movie, so thumbing through a book of poetry sounded more in keeping with my mood.  The poet’s name was Leonard L. Tews.   He’d stayed in our B and B several years ago, and sent us his book of poetry  after his time with us.

His poem Threshing Picture put me in mind of this photo of my grandfather  from the box:


Grandpa is 2nd from the left


Threshing Picture

There they stand

like stones of stonehedge

with musty

nineteenth century notions.

They smell of dusty sweat

and horses:

they itch of thistles

and rustic ambitions.


I can tell by shadows

under the horses

that they have stopped

for dinner just

at noon.

The hot threshing machine –

its noise of wheels and belts

is quiet


There stands my father’s father,

with my build,

sturdy in work pants

and cavalry suspenders

long-sleeved shirt

and underwear buttoned

to the neck,

in mid-western summers….


I’ll stop here.  Mostly wanted to share these snapshots with those  of you that subscribe to this blog.

Life is moving at a quieter pace currently and I’m OK with that.




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Sunset Christmas Day 2016


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Lost Boy

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted him yesterday afternoon in the center median.  No place for a kitten, not to mention, the temperatures were in the low 20’s and expected to drop overnight.

I told my wife, “That is someone’s kitten.  It has a collar.  I am going to turn around and see if I can catch it.”

I took the next exit/ did a 180, and headed back.  He was still there as I pulled onto the shoulder.  Traffic was not heavy but in the back of my mind, I knew if he wouldn’t come to me, and tried to run away,  I was just going to have to leave him….not that I wanted to, but chasing a kitten  with 75 mph vehicles flying by, less than 10 feet away, would not be smart….

I hated the thought of seeing a grey patch of fur the next day, on the side of the road,  knowing if I’d taken just a couple of minutes out of my day, it might mean the difference between life and death for this little kitten.

As i approached, it backed away.    I stopped, patted the ground and called “kitty, kitty….”  It came right up and wanting to snuggle.  First stop  after I got back to the car was  the vet clinic, to see if anyone had reported a missing kitten.


They also informed me, they were not set up to take strays.

The vet did scan the kitten to see if it had an identification chip.


Next stop was our newly opened animal shelter.

In talking to the receptionist, she told me no one had reported a missing kitten (yet), and there would be a fee if we were to leave him.

Things are a little tight right now, so that was also not an option.

Came home and posted a picture and notice on our local Facebook page.

Now we wait.

This is the most affectionate kitten I have ever met.  The vet was “pretty sure” it was a neutered  until we know differently.  this kitten is a he. 😉

If he isn’t claimed, we’ve already decided to name him Toodles…. after one of the lost boys who used to hang out with Peter Pan.


Toodles the Kitten (if he stays)

“I am a lost boy from Neverland
Usually hanging out with Peter Pan
And when we’re bored we play in the woods
Always on the run from Captain Hook
“Run, run, lost boy,” they say to me,
“Away from all of reality.””

From the song Lost Boys by Ruth B



Another thing that struck me as I re-listened  to this song, was I (DM) have sometimes been called Peter Pan by Mrs DM….think we may need to start calling our place Never-land. 😉

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misty march morning

Stand of timber just west of my parents by my buddy Jim’s


Wood heat.

I grew up with it.

My parents still heat their  farmhouse with wood,  and dad is 84.

I love wood heat.

I love everything that goes along with heating with wood,  the smell of wood chips and chainsaw oil.  Working up a good sweat. The satisfaction of a nicely stacked pile of wood. The sense of security, knowing you have enough wood laid up, for the whole winter…come what may…. and the smell of a hickory fire on a cold fall morning….

I just got back in the house this morning after a brisk one mile walk to the corner…it’s up hill the last 1/2 of the route….  I found myself thinking about that timber just west of my buddy Jim’s and the day he and I cut wood.   We had just a few weeks until the bulldozers  showed up to push all the trees into a pile then burn them.

Oak,  hickory, live trees, dead trees, 20 acres of  mature timber.

Land prices had sky rocketed and suddenly this “worthless” timber, was now worth $500 an acre per year…for corn ground that is.

As Jim and I walked the ground that Saturday morning, trying to decide which trees would be the easiest to get to, I came across a downed bee tree.    Wild honeybees were going in and out of the cracks of this massive old oak.  Jim and I decided to leave well enough along.  There were enough other trees to cut up, we didn’t need to be stirring up a bee hive….literally  😉

Well, that was  three years ago.    Since then, the bottom dropped out of the corn market.  Land is no longer worth $500 an acre to rent….

and that beautiful stand of timber,

it is no longer,  except in my memory.

Makes me wonder if those wild honey bees survived.

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My One Weakness


Farm fresh eggs are my one weakness.

(Ever see Larkrise to Candleford?… remember Doras Lane?)

Like I was just fresh eggs are my one weakness…

What’s the point of living on a hundred year old farmstead if you don’t have chickens, right?

Nothing quite as romantic to me as pulling into the driveway and seeing the girls foraging under the apple trees.

Problem is,  they have recently gotten lazy and instead of returning to the nest to lay their eggs, they have started laying them in the most random places, so  when I do find an egg outside the nesting area  I have no idea how old it is.

We quickly went from getting 3 and 4 eggs a day to 1  or two….maybe.

I know I could refire up the “chicken tractor” but that too has it’s own set of issues.

Another problem I started having  with the girls is one of them  has  acquired a taste for farm fresh eggs.  Went to gather eggs, a few weeks ago and all I found were  a few broken pieces of shell and egg yoke.


Since they are not supervised 24/7, I have no way to figure out which of them is doing it.

I have never had much success in breaking the egg eating habit in chickens  once it got started.

About the only thing that works is to  find, then eat the culprit.

Come to think about it, oven baked chicken like my grandma used to make ranks right up there as my one weakness.

When I was younger (12 yrs old )  I would get to stay over night with Grandpa and Grandma every Wednesday night.  We’d moved to the farm by then, and I was still taking piano lessons in town.  Since I’d miss the bus to get home,  Grandpa and Grandma would invite me to spend the night with them. Every week she would fix my favorite meals…Oven fried chicken was at the top of the list..then after supper Louise a widow lady who lived across the street would come over and the four  us would play  pinochle.

To this day, whenever I make grandma’s chicken or home made rye bread I think of her.  Of all the people in the world whom I have ever known, she is one of the few people I know who love me for who I am.

Grandma’s Oven Baked Chicken Recipe:

Dip individual pieces of chicken (either skin on or skin off) in egg wash..

Then coat them with crushed Ritz crackers/ or any crackers for that matter.

Side note:  I will usually grab whatever kind we have on hand, put the whole roll into a gallon plastic bag/ run the rolling pin over it until they are good and pulverized.   I will also add a little bit of seasoning salt to the cracker crumbs in the bag…

Brown the chicken in  frying pan….normally use Olive oil but have also been known to brown in butter or vegetable oil.  (Just a minute or two on each side…not wanting to actually cook the chicken/ just give them a nice looking crust)

Place the browned chicken pieces into a Pyrex bowl with lid or whatever container you like to bake in….Oven is set @ 350..for about 45 minutes.

Bake until tender.

I usually tell anyone who asks, that the chicken didn’t turn out.

That way there are  leftovers.

Wife finally figured me out a few years ago…

it took a while. she is such a kind trusting person 🙂

Now she knows if it really tastes like “you know what”, she better have a taste.



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“Mi Amo es DM”

Daughter # 3 married into the Hispanic culture two years ago. We love her hubby.    She (daughter #3) speaks less espanol than I do, 😉  and by the sound of it, doesn’t have any big plans to learn it…. Her extended family runs the gamut from fluent English to no speak English at all…

Last weekend their daughter (our granddaughter) turned one.  Daughter #3  and hubby decided to throw a birthday party for her.  Not wanting to offend anyone, it turned into quite a large guest list.

As I sat across the table from Edwardo,  he and I attempted to have a conversation.  In halting English he introduced me to his family...”This is my son…. and this is my wife.”

At this point, in the conversation, Mrs DM scooted down in the chair next to me and the conversations continued.  Edwardo, as it turned out, was able to understand much of what I said.  He told us his wife did not speak English, however his son Jordon, was your typical American 10 yr old.

Lots of laughs.

That conversation and another one with a shy 6th grade girl, who rarely talks, but opened up to Mrs DM and I when no one else was around were two of the highlights of our trip.

Read the following true story in the latest Readers Digest after the party.  Immediately takes me back to the feelings I had sitting around the birthday table last weekend…

A Random Act Of Roadside Assistance by Justin Horner

During this past year, I’ve had three instances of car trouble.  Each time these things happened, I was disgusted with the way most people hadn’t bothered to help.  One of those times, I was on the side of the road for close to three hours with my friend’s big Jeep.  I put signs in the windows, big signs that said NEED A JACK, and offered money. Nothing.  Right as I was about to give up and start hitching, a Mexican family a van pulled over, and the father bounded out.

He sized up the situation and called for his daughter, who spoke English.  He conveyed through her that he had a jack but that it was too small for the Jeep, so we would need to brace it.  Then he got a saw from the van and cut a section out of a big log on the side of the road.  We rolled it over and put his jack on top, and we were in business.

I started taking the wheel off, and then, if you can believe it, I broke his tire iron – snapped the head clean off.  No worries :  He handed it to his wife, and she was gone in a flash down the road to buy a a new tire iron.  She was back in 15 minutes.  We finished the job, and I was a very happy man.

The two of us were filthy and sweaty.  His wife produced a large water jut for us to wash our hands with.  I tried to put a $20 dollar bill in the man’s hand, but he wouldn’t take it, so instead I went up to the van and gave it to his wife as quietly as I could.  I asked the little girl where they lived.  Mexico, she said.  They were in Oregon so Mommy and Daddy could pick cherries for the next few weeks.  they they were going to pick peaches, then go home.

After I said my goodbyes and started walking back to the jeep, the girl called out and asked if I had lunch.  When I told her no, she ran up and handed me a tamale.

I thanked them again,walked back to my car, and opened the fiol on the tamale, and what did I find inside?  My $20 bill!  I ran to the van.  The father saw the $20 in my hand and just started shaking his head no.  With what looked like great concentration, he said in English, “Today you, tomorrow me.”

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